International students visit Moorestown

Thirteen families hosted students for two-week stay

Special to The Sun: Moorestown families hosted 13 students from Valencia, Spain for a two-week visit. Here they pose in front of the Oculus, near the World Trade Center in New York City.

After spending two weeks with over a dozen Moorestown families, 13 students from Valencia, Spain have ended their first visit to the U.S. A farewell party for the students and host families was held on July 27.

“It’s been really cool,” said 18-year-old student Nacho Pinazo, who stayed with Moorestown resident Joretta Wong and her family. “It’s not a culture shock because I’ve seen this country in movies … My family is really good too so I’m glad I have them.”

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Moorestown High School teacher Jessica Froelich became involved through residents Maggie and Dan Ladik, and after three years of planning and two years interrupted by the pandemic, she’s happy to see the students finally make their trip.

“The sad part is, COVID took away part of the plan and delayed for them to come for two years, but finally it did work so it has been a great experience,” she said.

Sach Keenan’s family hosted student Estabon, although Keenan agreed it was a lot to figure out the first few days, the experience led Estabon to become part of the family. 

Keenan’s mother Tara also shared how this was special for her and other families.

“I feel like for my kids, especially for my oldest child (Sach) I feel like it gave him the opportunity to be in a light he’s never been before, to show somebody from out of the country how he lives and that elevates all these teenagers,” she said. “It gives them a whole new opportunity to take that responsibility and for that in and of itself, I think this whole opportunity to have people here from another country was just delightful.”

Special to The Sun: Nacho Pinazo (left) and host family member, Vaughn Cultrara, tubing on the Delaware River.

Not only did the host family learn new things and enjoy the experience but students like Maria and Carla were also able to share what they enjoyed about being in the U.S. 

“We miss the typical Spanish foods, but there are so [many] things here, so many options to choose and [the] food is so good that while we miss [Spanish food], we don’t miss it a lot,” Carla said. “It’s strange.”

“This trip has gone over my [expectations] I had before getting here,” Maria said. “I think [it’s] a really nice experience to also know about other cultures and share different lifestyles. I really had a good time, and I’m hoping to come back next year.”

The students visited sites around Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. Wong shared how it felt to see Pinazo and other students try new activities.

“It really makes you feel good because you’re sharing something that you’ve taken for granted because we’ve lived here all our lives and we grew up here … and you could see [it] from their perspective,” she said.

Mayor Nicole Gillespie looks forward to seeing more families in Moorestown host students visiting from other countries.

“I’m so happy to have this,” she said. “We’re trying so much to have all these cultural events and expose people to this, so I’m thrilled to see this here.”

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